U.S. Supreme Court Fails to Grant Certiorari in Fitisemanu v. United States

By Susan DeSantis

U.S. Supreme Court Fails to Grant Certiorari in Fitisemanu v. United States

10.17.2022

By Susan DeSantis

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Sherry Levin Wallach, president of the New York State Bar Association, issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to grant certiorari in Fitisemanu v. United States:

“The court’s disappointing decision misses the mark and forgoes a significant opportunity to usher in a new era that separates this nation from racist policies and attitudes. Accepting the case would have given the Court the chance to formally denounce second-class citizenship for the people of all U.S. territories – something that is long overdue.

The New York State Bar Association supports policy that the people of all U.S. territories are entitled to the same rights and privileges as residents of the 50 states, which should be a guiding principle of our country’s jurisprudence.

The Insular cases, on which the Court and lower courts have relied to wrongly justify unequal treatment for the people of the territories since 1901, should be overruled.

Two sitting justices have already expressed their abhorrence of the racist outlook that is enshrined in the current law. Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the Insular Cases ‘both odious and wrong’ and Justice Neil Gorsuch stated that they ‘rest on a rotten foundation.’ Both have said publicly that it is time to finally overrule the Insular Cases, and we wholeheartedly agree.”

The New York State Bar Association on June 1 launched a task force on the Insular Cases to make recommendations to grant equality. The Association’s Executive Committee voted on July 22 to approve a resolution declaring that all U.S. citizens – including residents of the U.S. Territories – be treated equally and afforded the same rights.

At the urging of the New York State Bar Association and the Virgin Islands Bar Association, the American Bar Association on Aug. 9  approved a resolution supporting the overruling of the Insular Cases. The association plans to continue to educate about the issue and advocate for change.

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